SJ car theft with child inside leads to kidnapping charges

SAN JACINTO, Calif. — Authorities say a woman who stole a car with a five-year-old boy inside it in San Jacinto was arrested and has been charged with kidnapping, car theft and child endangerment, Thursday afternoon, July 23.

The child managed to escape from the vehicle uninjured and was later reunited with his mother after the car was stolen from the Fastrip Convenience Store, at the corner of San Jacinto Ave. and 7th St., according to officials.


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Deputies assigned to the San Jacinto Sheriff’s Station were dispatched to the convenience store about 12:12 p.m., after receiving reports of a vehicle theft and a child kidnapping, Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt. Radek Horkel has since said of the incident and arrest.

Deputies converged on the area and quickly located the stolen vehicle traveling in the area of Pico Ave. and 5th St.

“The vehicle fled west on 7th St., but not before the child was able to escape from the vehicle,” officials explained; saying the five-year-old boy was uninjured during his escape and has since been reunited with his mother.

“A traffic enforcement stop was conducted, and the vehicle yielded in the 700 block of South San Jacinto Ave.,” explained Horkel; saying the driver, Christina De La Cruz, a 34-year-old resident of San Jacinto, was detained without incident.

During their subsequent investigation deputies learned the owner of the vehicle left her five-year-old child unattended in the rear seat of the car with the engine and air conditioning running, while she went inside the store to purchase items.

While the mother was inside the store, De La Cruz entered the victim’s vehicle and drove away with the young boy still in the car.

“The vehicle fled west on 7th Street, but not before the child was able to escape from the vehicle,” said Horkel.

“The child was uninjured during his escape,” the Sgt. continued.

Based on their investigation, deputies arrested De La Cruz and she was later booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on multiple felony charges related to the incident.

Online jail records indicate De La Cruz remains in custody in lieu of $55,000 bail or bond and is scheduled to be arraigned at the Southwest Justice Center tomorrow, July 27.

Horkel used the opportunity to remind citizens “to make sure their vehicle windows are up, the car is locked, key is out of the ignition with the engine off whenever they are away from the vehicle.”

“Additionally, children should never be left unattended in a car, running or not,” Horkel continued. “During the sweltering heat of summer, temperatures in a car can reach up to 150 degrees, an incredibly dangerous environment for anyone, but especially for children.”

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact Deputy Page Broughton at (951) 654-2702. Callers can refer to incident file number I202050043 and can remain anonymous.

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Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.

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